Gold & Silver Daily

Ed's Critical Reads

Mar 27, 2015

Initial Jobless Claims Drop Back Below Dreaded "300k" Level

After last week's initial jobless claims drop - which nevertheless held the 4-wk average above 300k - this week saw the number drop once more. Against expectations of 290k, claims printed 282k, leaving the 4-week average at 297k, conveniently below the 300k mark. Continuing claims continues to flat line at an elevated level. This means that since the end of QE3, initial jobless claims are unchanged as the trend of improvement has clearly stalled.

This brief Zero Hedge article, with two excellent charts, showed up there at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of Dan Lazicki.

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Kansas Fed Plunges to 2-Year Lows, New Orders Crash: "Economy Not as Strong as Media Portrays"

How can it be? Services PMI was at 6-month highs. The Kansas City Fed Index tumbled to -4 in March (against expectations of +1) and was last below this level in Feb 2013. KC Fed has now missed for 6 of the last 8 months and the report is a disaster across the board. New orders plunged to -20 (2nd lowest print since Lehman), order backlogs imploded, average workweek collapsed to -17 (lowest since Lehman), and future capex expectations fell to a five-year low. As one respondent noted, "we do not see the economy as being as strong as a portrayed in the national media reports."

This Zero Hedge story is also chock full of charts that are worth your while.  It was posted on their Internet site at 11:17 a.m. EDT yesterday morning.  It's another offering from Dan L.

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USA Today: The Emerging Portrait of Q1 Earnings Could Be Dismal

There might be a train wreck ahead — investors should look out for withering corporate profits when first-quarter results start pouring in, with some companies' profits expected to vanish entirely, according a USA Today review of S&P Capital IQ data.

In fact, at least 19 companies in the bellwether S&P 500 are expected to see their profits plummet by 90 percent or more, according to analyst projections.

Analysts' consensus projects that overall S&P 500 earnings will slump by almost 3 percent for the first quarter of this year. All 10 recessions since 1945 were preceded by downward trending growth in earnings per share during the previous 12-month period, said Sam Stovall, managing director of U.S. Equity Strategy at S&P Capital IQ’s Global Markets Intelligence group.

This business-related news story appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 6:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it along.

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S&P Tumbles Into Red Year-to-Date, Gold Goes Green

With Trannies now down almost 6% year-to-date, the S&P just fell back below the red-line for 2015, joining the Dow.  Small Caps and NASDAQ remain up 2% for now. Bonds, gold, and silver are back in the green for 2015.

Year-to-Date, stocks not happy...as PMs and bonds push back into green.

This is another short, 2-chart Zero Hedge story from yesterday morning EDT---and this one is courtesy of Dan Lazicki as well.  It's certainly worth a peek.

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Dow Breaks Below Key "Bullard Bounce" Trend line

This is another tiny Zero Hedge article.  It's composed of two lines of text that accompany two charts---and they're definitely worth a look.  It's the third contribution from Dan Lazicki.

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Jim Grant: Still in emergency mode after seven years

James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer discusses risk in the markets and the Fed.

This 4:41 minute video clip took place on the Fox Business website on Wednesday---and once again I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

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Three black crows' could spell doom for the market

Something highly unusual, and potentially quite bearish, has just happened to the stock market.  The S&P has closed on its absolute low three days in a row---and the pundits over at CNBS are fraught with worry.

But never fear, the President's Working Groups on Financial Markets---a.k.a. The Plunge Protection Team---will not allow things to get out of hand in the equity or bond markets to the downside, just like they're not prepared to let the precious metals get away to the upside.

This 2:36 minute video was posted on the CNBC website yesterday---and once again I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

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Manufacturing Dissent — Paul Craig Roberts

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the author of many important books. His latest is The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity. Chossudovsky shows that Washington has globalized war while the US president is presented as a global peace-maker, complete with the Nobel Peace Prize. Washington has military deployed in 150 countries, has the world divided up into six US military commands and has a global strike plan that includes space operations. Nuclear weapons are part of the global strike plan and have been elevated for use in a preemptive first strike, a dangerous departure from their Cold War role.

America’s militarization includes military armament for local police for use against the domestic population and military coercion of sovereign countries in behalf of US economic imperialism.

One consequence is the likelihood of nuclear war. Another consequence is the criminalization of US foreign policy. War crimes are the result. These are not the war crimes of individual rogue actors but war crimes institutionalized in established guidelines and procedures. “What distinguishes the Bush and Obama administrations,” Chossudovsky writes, “is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are now openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain ‘the global war on terrorism’ and support the spread of ‘Western democracy.’”

Chossudovsky points out that the ability of US citizens to protest and resist the transformation of their country into a militarist police state is limited. Washington and the compliant foundations now fund the dissent movement in order to control it.

This absolute must read commentary by Paul showed up on his Internet site yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to our attention.

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Bank of Canada says foreign buyers complicate housing market

A lack of data on foreign buyers scooping up property in Canada has made it tougher for the central bank to understand housing market and financial system risks, a senior bank of Canada official said on Wednesday.

Overseas home owners could respond more quickly to house price shocks, potentially exacerbating price moves, Deputy Governor Tim Lane said.

But he also noted any indebtedness they have would have less impact on the Canadian financial system assuming their money comes from abroad.

Foreign buying has helped pump up Canada's housing market, particularly in major centers like Toronto and Vancouver.

This Reuters article appeared on their Internet site at 5:40 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and it's the second offering of the day from Elliot Simon.

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Low rates causing 'huge problems' for Germany

"We have an interest rate environment that is causing huge problems for us in Germany," Wolfgang Schaeuble said at a banking event in Berlin.

However, he added that he was not criticising the European Central Bank (ECB), which needed to defend its inflation target.

"A low interest rate leads to a misallocation of resources with all the risks and side-effects that you see when bubbles are forming," he said, adding that there was too much central bank money and debt in the world.

Mr Schaeuble also said that bond buying by the European Central Bank meant countries had less incentive to reform.

This Reuters article found a home over at the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 4:37 p.m. GMT yesterday afternoon, which was 12:37 p.m. in New York.  It's courtesy of South African reader B.V.---and it's worth reading.

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One Month After Austria's Black Swan Shocker, the ECB Quietly Asks Banks to "Detail Their Exposure"

Nearly a month after the Hype Alpe Adria bad bank Heta Asset Resolution "unexpectedly" imploded under a house of non-GAAP and misreported cards, and which led to only the second European creditor bail-in after Cyprus in what until then was considered the safest European nation, unleashing a herd of black swans which will result in not only the insolvency of one of Austria's provinces, Carinthia, but a week ago led to its first foreign casualty, German Duesseldorfer Hypothekenbank AG which had to be bailed out by the German FDIC-equivalent, the ECB has finally realized it may have a major problem at hand.

So, doing what it does best, a month after the fact and long after the black swans have left the stable so to speak, Mario Draghi's ECB has asked Eurozone banks "to detail their exposure to Austria and provisions they plan to make after the country halted debt repayments by a "bad bank" winding down defunct lender Hypo Alpe Adria," financial sources told Reuters.

This Reuters article from yesterday gets the Zero Hedge treatment.  It was posted on their Internet site at 10:36 a.m. EDT yesterday---and it's another contribution from reader Dan L.  It's also worth reading.

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Putin Is Becoming A "Vulture" Bond Investor in Ukraine

With Washington throwing its full faith and credit behind a new Ukrainian bond issue, it appears it’s time for Moscow to play spoiler to current debt restructuring talks between Kiev and its creditors. Russia is the country’s second-largest creditor after buying $3 billion in bonds back in the days of Viktor Yanukovych (who was once the victim of an attempted assassination by egg and who famously fled the country amid widespread protests last year) and now the Kremlin wants its money and isn’t likely to be amenable to any haircuts imposed on private creditors. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

Ukraine, after gaining a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund, included Russia’s bond among the 29 securities and enterprise loans it seeks to renegotiate with creditors before June. Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has promised not to give any creditor special treatment. The revamp will include a reduction in the coupon, an extension in maturities as well as a cut in the face value, she said.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said March 17 that the nation isn’t taking part in the debt negotiations because it’s an “official” creditor, not a private bondholder.

Should Russia decide to stick with a hardline stance on the negotiations (and it’s likely they will) it could not only embolden other prospective holdouts, but may indeed force Ukraine into a default.

This very interesting news item appeared on the Zero Hedge Internet site at 11:30 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and I thank Dan Lazicki for digging it up for us.

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The Central Banker Who Saved the Russian Economy From the Abyss

Panic reached the inner sanctum of the Russian central bank.

It was Dec. 16 -- the day Russian traders would later christen Black Tuesday -- and the ruble was in a free fall.

“Intervene! Intervene!” a central bank official shouted.

Governor Elvira Nabiullina watched the currency on her tablet screen react to her emergency rate increase. No, she said, not this time: Russia would no longer fight the market. Speculators needed a cold shower, she said.

That daring decision, related by two people with knowledge of the meeting, has begun to pay off for Nabiullina, 51, and her patron, President Vladimir Putin. Despite sanctions meant to punish Russia for its foray into Ukraine a year ago, the ruble has stabilized. Since Black Tuesday, when it plunged to a record low, the ruble has rebounded 19 percent against the dollar, the most among 24 emerging-market currencies.

As this Bloomberg article states shortly afterwards---"While her central bank is nominally independent, analysts agree Putin is ultimately in charge. Yet Nabiullina has emerged as a power in her own right, with a direct line to the president."  This very interesting article, filed from Moscow, appeared on their Internet site at 3 p.m. Denver time on Wednesday afternoon---and I thank Elliot Simon for his third offering of the day.

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Iran, Russia demand immediate halt to Saudi-led intervention in Yemen

Iran and Russia have called on Saudi Arabia to halt airstrikes on Yemen as supporters of Yemen’s ruling Houthi militants stage demonstrations throughout the country, protesting against the Saudi-led military intervention.

Speaking to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin called for an "immediate cessation of military activities" in Yemen and increased efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Kremlin said in a statement on Thursday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that military operations against Yemen will only lead to further destabilization of the region, which has fallen under Houthi control after an onslaught of increased violence in recent months.

Iran is suspected of providing supplies and training to the Houthi rebels, but Tehran has publicly denied these claims.

This news item put in an appearance on the Russia Today Internet site at 5:34 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon, which was 9:34 a.m. in Washington.  I thank Casey Research's own Bud Conrad for passing this story around yesterday.

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U.S. Policies in Yemen, Ukraine Double Standard -- Lavrov

The U.S. approaches towards the ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych represent double standards, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

"A much-employed cliche has to be used: obvious double standards, but we clearly did not want neither what is happening in Ukraine, nor what is happening in Yemen," Lavrov said at a press conference.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia-led coalition which includes Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt launched airstrikes against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen following a request by Hadi.  The United States is not participating in the military operation, but agreed to provide logistical and intelligence support.

It is necessary to renew the negotiations process in Yemen, as playing political games between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is too dangerous, Russian Foreign Minister said.

This story showed up on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 12 minutes to midnight Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another article that's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Saudi battle for Yemen exposes fragility of global oil supply

The long-simmering struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for Mid-East supremacy has escalated to a dangerous new level as the two sides fight for control of Yemen, reminding markets that the epicentre of global oil supply remains a powder keg.

Brent oil prices spiked 6pc to $58 a barrel after a Saudi-led coalition of ten Sunni Muslim states mobilized 150,000 troops and launched air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, prompting a furious riposte from Tehran.

Analysts expect crude prices to command a new “geo-political premium” as it becomes clear that Saudi Arabia has lost control over the Yemen peninsular and faces a failed state on its 1,800 km southern border, where Al Qaeda can operate with near impunity.

Over 3.8m barrels a day (b/d) pass through the 18-mile Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen, one of the world's key choke points for crude oil supply. While there is little likelihood of disruption to tanker traffic, Saudi Arabia is increasingly threatened by Shiite or Jihadi enemies of different kinds.

The Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offering turned up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 8:41 p.m. GMT last night, which was 4:41 p.m. EDT.  Once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.  It's certainly worth reading, but it's hard to keep all the waring factions straight as you read on.  A printed program would be nice.

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China wants to compel U.S. to engage it as an equal partner in AIIB

The AIIB Charter is still under discussion. The media report that China is not seeking a veto in the decision-making comes as a pleasant surprise.

Equally, China is actively consulting other founding members (who now include U.K., Germany, France, Italy, etc). These would suggest that Beijing has a much bigger game plan of scattering the U.S.’ containment strategy. Clearly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal is already looking more absurd if China were to be kept out of it. The point is, AIIB gives financial underpinning for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which now the European countries and Russia have embraced, as they expect much business spin-off.

China has said that its Silk Road projects are not to be confused as a latter-day Marshal Plan for developing countries, and that, on the contrary, the projects will be run on commercial terms. Which opens up enormous opportunities for participation by western companies. In geopolitical terms, therefore, China hopes that the ‘win-win’ spirit that permeates the AIIB and ‘Belt and Road’ will render ineffectual the American attempts to hem it in on the world stage and compel Washington to revisit a ‘new type of relations’ with China.

This short commentary by career Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar appeared on the Asia Times website yesterday---and it's a must read.  I thank reader M.A for finding it for us.

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Gold market manipulation raised by Euronews broadcast

Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen calls attention to a segment of the "Business Middle East" program on the French-based Euronews television network that this week asked whether gold market manipulation would diminish under the new gold price-fixing mechanism in London. Looks like gold market manipulation can get into the mainstream financial news media ... at least in Arabic.

The video clip has an English voice-over translation, so you can follow along. This news item was embedded in an article that Koos Jansen posted on the Singapore website bullionstar.com yesterday.  I found it in a GATA release---and I thank Chris Powell for the above paragraph of introduction.

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China should boost gold reserves to 5 percent, says World Gold Council

China should increase its gold holdings to around 5 percent of its total foreign exchange reserves to help diversify currency risks, the World Gold Council (WGC) said.

China currently holds about 1.6 percent of its foreign exchange reserves in gold, which is relatively low compared with developed countries and some developing countries, WGC China managing director Roland Wang said.

"The ideal amount should be at least 5 percent of its total forex reserves," Wang told Reuters in an interview in Hong Kong.

China's holdings as a percentage of total reserves in Q4 2014 compare with 2.4 percent for Mexico, 5.7 percent for Australia, 6.7 percent for India and 12.1 percent for Russia, according to WGC figures.

Of course we know what the World Gold Council's "figures" are worth, don't we dear reader?  I would guess that China holds at least 5 percent already, if not more---and probably much more.  They'll let the world know the exact amount when it suits them.  This Reuters article, filed from Hong Kong, showed up on their website at 2:19 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and I found it on the Sharps Pixley Internet site.  Most of the article is the usual main stream media bulls hit, so be warned of that fact if you decide to read it.

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Gold market manipulation is 'too inflammatory' to be debated at Hong Kong conference

Yesterday's concentration on gold at the spectacular Mines and Money Hong Kong conference may have inadvertently proved GATA's longstanding contention that gold market manipulation simply can't be discussed in polite company almost anywhere in the world.

For at the outset of a panel discussion described as a debate about the direction of the gold price, its moderator, Rod Whyte, a longtime gold advocate and member of the Board of Directors of Australia-based business information provider Aspermont Ltd., announced that the panelists had agreed that gold market manipulation would not be discussed because the topic is "too inflammatory."

Since Whyte has expressed support for GATA at other venues, the calculated avoidance of the manipulation issue would seem to have been someone else's idea. In any case the panel included two members who could not have been expected to want to discuss the issue: Philip Klapwijk, formerly an analyst for Gold Fields Mineral Services, now managing director of Precious Metals Insights Ltd. in Hong Kong, and Albert Cheng, Far East managing director for the World Gold Council.

While Klapwijk predicted that the price of gold will fall substantially, predictions for the gold price are of no particular concern to GATA. We recognize that as long as the futures markets are operating, central banks can drive the price down to zero or up to infinity.

This commentary by Chris Powell was posted on the gata.org Internet at 6:51 p.m. Hong Kong time on their Thursday evening---and it's a must read.

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Mar 26, 2015

Durable Goods Orders Drop And Miss In Worst Run Since Lehman

For the 3rd of the last 4 months, Durable Goods Orders fell and missed expectations (the worst run since Lehman). A 1.4% drop (against expectations of a 0.2% rise) is made worse by downward revisions of the last month's modest bounce. Across the board the numbers are a disaster - Ex-Trans fell 0.4%, Ex-defense fell 1%, Capital Goods Shipments fell 1.4% with capital goods ex-air dropping a stunning 7.6% YoY.

  • *U.S. FEBRUARY DURABLES ORDERS FALL 1.4%; EX-TRANS. DROP 0.4% (both big misses)
  • *FEB. NON-DEFENSE CAPITAL GOODS ORDERS EX-AIRCRAFT DROP 1.4% (big miss)
  • *JANUARY DURABLE GOODS ORDERS RISE 2%, REVISED FROM 2.8% GAIN (major downward revision)
  • *U.S. FEBRUARY DURABLE GOODS ORDERS EX-DEFENSE DECREASE 1% (big miss)
  • *DURABLE GOODS INVENTORIES IN U.S. INCREASED 0.3% IN FEBRUARY

New orders fell for Computer products, fabricated metals, machinery, transportation, motor vehicle, and a dramatic plunge in non-defense aircraft new orders and even larger (33.1%) collapse in defense aircraft orders.

This news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

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Dow tumbles 292 points as economy shows cracks

Wall Street is no longer cheering bad economic news.

The Dow dropped 292 points and the S&P 500 declined almost 1.5% after the latest in a long line of alarming economic reports.  The tech-heavy NASDAQ tumbled over 2.3% -- its biggest drop in nearly a year -- as investors worry that biotechs may be overvalued.

For weeks the stock market rallied because investors saw every economic speed bump as an indication the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates extremely low for longer and longer.

"You're at a point now where you can no longer say bad news is good news. That's not working anymore. You've got to show some growth here," said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of trading at Themis Trading.

This article showed up on the money.cnn.com Internet site at 5:05 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I found it in this morning's edition of the King Report.

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Price of Ground Beef Hits Record in February: $4.238 Per Pound

The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high in February, hitting $4.238 per pound, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS.

In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound; in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound; and in November, the average price climbed to $4.201 per pound.

This article was posted on the cnsnews.com Internet site on Tuesday morning EDT---and it's the second offering of the day from reader M.A.

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SEC proposes forcing high-frequency trading firms to register

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday voted to propose a rule that would force high-speed trading firms to register. Such high-speed trading firms, when they conduct business only for their own accounts, are currently exempt from registration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The rule that allows this exemption hasn't been substantively amended since 1983, the SEC says. The Michael Lewis book "Flash Boys" has brought more scrutiny on high-frequency trading.

This single paragraph story appeared on the marketwatch.com Internet site at 11:02 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Brad Robertson for sending it.

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Russia’s Lavrov compliments Obama

Russia has chosen to sidestep the provocative resolution passed with an overwhelming majority of 348 to 48 by the U.S. Congress on Monday urging President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Of course, Obama himself would ignore it.

However, the Russian assessment rests on more fundamental considerations. In a television interview in Moscow last week, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was optimistic that Obama is unlikely to decide on supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. This is what he said:

“So far, the administration of US President Barack Obama has opposed supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. They are proceeding from considerations rooted in their overwhelming desire for a political solution, and also from purely pragmatic reasons. They are aware that this could lead to a grave military situation. And the most important thing is the European Union doesn’t want it either. It is not taking its cues from a small, aggressive and noisy group of its member countries that couldn’t care less and are eager to endlessly blame Russia for all the sins in the world, to preserve the sanctions against our country, and so on. As things stand now, a change in the E.U. position seems entirely unlikely to me.” [Emphasis added.]

The friendly tenor of Lavrov remarks — as friendly toward Obama as circumstances would permit a Russian foreign minister at the moment — would suggest that there might have been Russian-American cogitations on this topic and Lavrov would have spoken in the light of recent exchanges with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Most certainly, an overall lowering of the U.S.’ anti-Russia rhetoric on Ukraine is palpable in the recent week or two.

This commentary by Indian career diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar appeared on the Asia Times website yesterday---and it's the third story of the day from reader M.A.  It's certainly worth reading.

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Obama Refuses to Meet With NATO Secretary General in Washington

NATO’s new Secretary General is in Washington this week, but despite repeated requests, has been refused a meeting at the White House. Could this be another indication of rising tension between President Obama and European leaders over the proposed EU army?

Nearly every NATO country has hosted the organization’s new head, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, since he took office in October. It’s part of a long tradition which has, until now, been enthusiastically followed by US presidents as a way to illustrate commitment to one of the country’s strongest treaty obligations.

"The Bush administration held a firm line that if the NATO secretary general came to town, he would be seen by the president…so as not to diminish his stature or authority," Kurt Volker, former US representative to NATO, told Bloomberg.

This is a big "up yours" to NATO's plans for the Ukraine.  This very interesting news item was posted on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 7:21 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 11:21 a.m. in Washington.  It's the first contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Alberta to bleed 31,800 jobs by end of year in oil price carnage

Alberta, the Canadian province holding the world’s third-largest oil reserves, expects 31,800 jobs to be lost for the remainder of the year as a crude price crash forces producers to cut costs.

Even with the job losses, overall employment will rise 1% in 2015 because of gains carried over from December, the provincial finance ministry said Tuesday in a statement to reporters in Calgary. That compares with a 2.2% increase in employment last year. It would take a loss of 80,000 jobs before year-end to prevent employment from growing, the government said.

Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and other oil producers have already shed thousands of jobs this year as they cut spending on new projects. The energy industry accounts for about a quarter of Alberta’s economy, making the province the most reliant on crude in Canada, and previously fueling a boom that saw real estate prices and the number of millionaires in Calgary surge.

This short Bloomberg news item found a home on the financialpost.com Internet site on Tuesday---and it's the second offering of the day from Brad Robertson.

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Russian Shipbuilder to Sue German Engine Supplier

Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is preparing to sue Germany-based company MTU for its failure to supply engines for Russian corvettes, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported on Tuesday, citing USC President Alexei Rakhmanov.

MTU refused to supply the power units under a valid €24 million contract, Rakhmanov said.

“As if it wasn’t enough to keep the engines, they also tried to take us to court to avoid returning our advance payment,” he added.

This short article, filed from Moscow, appeared on the russia-insider.com website late on Tuesday Moscow time.

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Europe blocks desperate Greek attempt to stay afloat

The Greek government will not receive €1.2bn (£883m) in European rescue funds after officials ruled the Leftist government had no legal claims on the cash.

Athens requested the return of money it said was erroneously handed to creditors from Greece's own bank recapitalisation fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility (HFSF).

The transfer was originally arranged by the previous Greek administration.

But eurozone officials have blocked the claim, saying it is "legally impossible" transfer the money back to the debt-stricken country.

This news item appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 10:00 p.m. GMT in London last evening---and it's another news item I found embedded in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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The Political Perils of a Ukraine Default

For the last 10 days, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has been visiting private creditors in Europe and the U.S. to explain why they should help her create a "new Ukraine," by agreeing to write off some of its debt. Back home, meanwhile, an oligarch with a private army was busy occupying two state energy companies in a style decidedly reminiscent of the old Ukraine.

The contrast is no criticism of Jaresko, an American-Ukrainian from Chicago who seems committed to the economic reform Ukraine needs. Indeed, the attempt by Igor Kolomoisky, a billionaire businessman and regional governor, to keep control of two state energy companies is grist for the pitch she’s been making to private holders of Ukraine’s sovereign debt.

Jaresko says they'll never get a better price for their bonds than now, because there’s a calm amid the Ukrainian storm. There's something resembling a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine; the currency is stable(ish); there’s a government committed to reform under the International Monetary Fund’s $40 billion loan program; and that government has support for that in parliament.

Her list of shocks that could end this lull is longer and all too plausible -- especially if the country's creditors don't help out before May, potentially forcing the IMF to withdraw its program and force a disorderly default.

This rather short commentary was posted on the bloomberg.com Internet site at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday afternoon---and I thank South African reader B.V.  It's worth your time.

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Moody’s downgrades Ukraine heralding imminent default

International rating agency Moody's has downgraded the long-term issuer rating of Ukraine to the second lowest Ca grade from Caa3, leaving the outlook negative and a high possibility of the country’s imminent default.

“Although negotiations over the specific details of the restructuring are only now getting underway, Moody's believes that the likelihood of a distressed exchange, and hence a default on government debt taking place, is virtually one hundred percent,” Moody’s said in a news release Tuesday.

Another reason for downgrading Ukraine’s rating is that foreign private lenders are expected to incur substantial losses due to the government's plan of restructuring the bonds it has issued or guaranteed, the agency said.

The negative outlook reflects the agency’s expectation that the level of Ukrainian external debt will remain very high, despite plans to restructure the debt and carry out reforms.

This short article appeared on the Russia Today website at 10:22 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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'A revolution is impossible in Belarus'

The political year for the Belarusian opposition begins today, on Freedom Day, with a state-sanctioned rally.

The day, which marks the foundation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918, used to bring thousands to the streets of Minsk to oppose the government of Alexander Lukashenko – who has been in power since 1994.

Not anymore. The political opposition is suffering from years of exclusion from public sphere; they have not held a seat in parliament since 1996, they are virtually ignored by state-affiliated media and the government have restricted their right to protest.

The appetite for a revolution has also been quelled by events in neighbouring Ukraine. Belarusians are cautious. The risk of the state collapse, civil strife and Russian interference seems too high. The west, particularly the US, take the same line. Preserving Belarusian independence, not democratisation, has become the highest priority.

This short, but very interesting essay appeared on theguardian.com website at 1:15 p.m. GMT on Wednesday afternoon, which was 9:15 a.m. in New York---and it's the second offering of the day from reader B.V.  I'm not sure what to make of it, but I am curious as to the reason it's appearing at this juncture.

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Saudi Arabia moves heavy arms to border with chaos-stricken Yemen

Saudi Arabia is deploying a significant task force to the border with neighboring Yemen, where Houthi Shiite rebels allegedly forced the president to leave the country. President Hadi has been asking the U.N. to approve the use of foreign forces in Yemen.

The situation in Yemen remains murky, with Houthi militants claiming capture of the southern seaport of Aden, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters say the city of Aden is now under their control and they're arresting the president's supporters there.

The rebels claim Hadi has fled the country, and announced a 20 million riyal ($100,000) reward for Hadi's capture, Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV reported, citing the rebels' representatives. While two of the president's aides have said he remains in Aden and has no intention of leaving the country, later reports claim he has left Yemen.

Yemen's president has left the country on a boat from Aden, officials told AP.  Hadi is now traveling by sea to the neighboring country of Djibouti, Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's secretary told RIA Novosti.

This longish, but worthwhile news item appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:31 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning, which was 2:31 a.m. EDT in Washington.  I thank reader M.A. for digging it up for us.

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Saudi Arabia launches air attacks in Yemen

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country.

The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had taken refuge in Aden after fleeing Sanaa, the capital, was said to have escaped. His whereabouts were unknown.

The military operation was announced Wednesday evening in Washington by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, who said it would last until Yemen’s “legitimate government” was restored.

This news story put in an appearance on The Washington Post website at 10:20 p.m. EDT last night---and it's another article I lifted from this morning's edition of the King Report.

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Chinese demand for Russian oil holds steady

Demand for Russian crude oil in the Chinese economy is expected to hold steady, despite economic faltering in both countries, a Chinese trader said Wednesday.

Chinese officials are describing a "new normal" in an economy slowing from a long period of double-digit growth. For Russia, sanctions pressure in response to crises in Ukraine and the decline in crude oil prices is pushing the country toward recession.

Chen Bo, head of the oil trading subsidiary of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., said from a bilateral energy forum in Beijing both countries would remain strong energy partners.

This UPI story, filed from Beijing, appeared on their Internet site at 6:58 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy for his final offering in today's column.

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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: U.S. risks epic blunder by treating China as an economic enemy

The U.S. Treasury's attempt to cripple the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank before it gets off the ground is clearly intended to head off China's ascendancy as a rival financial superpower, whatever the faux-pieties from Washington about standards of "governance."

Such a policy is misguided at every level, evidence of what can go wrong when a lame-duck president defers to posturing amateurs in Congress on delicate matters of global geostrategy.

Washington has enraged Britain by trying to browbeat Downing Street into boycotting the project. It has forced allies and friendly countries across the Far East to make a fatal choice between the US and China that none wished to make, and has ended up losing almost everybody. Germany, France, and Italy are joining. Australia and South Korea may follow soon.

Ambrose carves the U.S. a new one, which is a sure sign that they've really stepped in it this time, which is precisely what they've done.  There's also no doubt in my mind that he was given the green light to write it, as he would never have been allowed to be this vitriolic without approval from above. This absolute must read commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 8:37 p.m. GMT yesterday evening in London---and I found it in a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Hong Kong on their Thursday afternoon.

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Lawrence Williams: SocGen’s ultra bearish gold and silver outlook

Analysts at the French Bank Société Générale (SocGen) in their latest research report have forecast that the gold price, having given away all its early year gains, was headed sharply lower, as it saw the dollar continue its gain in strength. They thus expected the bear market in gold to continue further and saw the price as falling to average only $925 an ounce between 2016 and 2019. The timing of this report was perhaps unfortunate in that the forecast for a virtually immediate downturn in gold, together with dollar strength, predated the events of the past few days, which has seen the reverse occur. Gold bulls will be fervently hoping that the bank’s analysts are equally incorrect in their forecast of gold’s longer-term prospects.

It’s not that the SocGen predictions couldn’t happen. Anything is possible with what we see as a gold price dominated by the futures markets and thus by the financial elite (which includes SocGen).

However the more we look at physical gold flows, and the rise in Asian-located precious metals exchange participation and volumes, we just feel that the current dominance of New York and London in gold and silver price setting could be drawing to a close. It would be replaced by pricing on the new Asian precious metals exchanges where there will likely be a different ultimate agenda. Whether that will involve allowing precious metals prices to rise, and rise fast, is anyone’s guess, but the current West to East physical gold flows suggest that this could well be in the cards.

This commentary by Lawrie is definitely worth reading---and it appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 12:24 p.m. GMT in London Wednesday afternoon.  I thank Nick Laird for bringing it to our attention.  Perma-gold bear Jeff Christian over at CPM Group was also dumping on the "ancient metal of kings".  His comments appeared in an article on the Bloomberg website on Tuesday afternoon bearing the headline "Gold Prices Seen Declining by CPM for Third Straight Year".  I found this item on the Sharps Pixley website in the wee hours of this morning.

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HSBC 'cautiously optimistic' of gold price outlook in 2015

HSBC is "cautiously optimistic" of the gold price outlook for 2015, predicting a trading range of $1,120/oz-$1,305/oz with an average price of $1,234/oz, the bank said late Tuesday, March 24.

"The possibility that deflationary pressures could bring on negative rates in some economies helps reaffirm our cautiously optimistic view on gold," head analyst James Steel said.

However, in Steel's view gold prices are not "entirely hostage" to monetary developments.

"The recent price slump below $1,150/oz may be encouraging greater demand from price sensitive emerging market buyers, notably, but not exclusively, in India and China," Steel said.

Blah, blah, blah.   As you already know dear reader, the price of gold, along with the other three precious metals, are set by JPMorgan et al in the COMEX futures market irrespective of supply and demand fundamentals---or anything else for that matter---and what they decide, or are instructed to do, determines prices---end of story.  But these so-called "analysts" are oblivious, as their jobs depend on them not seeing this.  This gold-related news item appeared on the platts.com Internet site at 5:49 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's another article I found on the Sharps Pixley website this morning.

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Koos Jansen: Turkey's mint sometimes products more gold coins than U.S. mint

The Turkish mint gets little attention, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote earlier today, but it is among the biggest in the world and in some recent years has produced more gold coins than the U.S. mint.

Jansen's report is headlined "The Largest Gold Mints in the World"---and it was posted on the bullionstar.com Internet site early Thursday morning Singapore time.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.

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Mar 25, 2015

Consumer Prices Rise Most Since May 2014, Led By Gas Prices and Shelter Costs

Following the first YoY deflation since 2009 in January, February's CPI YoY data managed to scrape its way back to unchanged (very modestly better than the 0.1% drop expected). Consumer prices rose 0.2% MoM - the most since May 2014 with gas prices up MoM for the first time since June. So what is the narrative now: if tumbling gas prices didn't get consumers to spend, rising gas costs will? Ex food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM (slightly hotter than the 0.1% rise expected) led by the shelter index (which increased 0.2 percent) accounting for about two-thirds of the monthly increase. The rent continues to be too damn high for most, and finally the BLS is starting to realize this.

MoM, Consumer prices have jumped from the worst drop since Lehman to the biggest jump since May 2014.

This economic news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:40 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

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How Cold Was It This Winter? So Cold That New Home Sales Hit a 7 Year Record!

For a minute there I thought I was reading the National Enquirer. But the Journal was not alone. All the major media outlets were reveling over the news. The Journal went on to say “New-home sales rose to the highest level in seven years in February, a sign of strong demand that could help boost the broader U.S. housing market.”

That’s the ticket! Strong demand! Housing is back, America! Low pay, unqualified borrowers are back, and we’re selling over a half million houses annually!

Behind that headline, a bump in southerly migration joined with the usual random noise in February in other regions to send the number reported by the back slapping, self-congratulatory, Washington-Wall Street media echo chamber, to da moon.

As usual, they were annualizing a monthly, seasonally adjusted, abstract impressionist interpretation of loosely estimated reality. In other words they multiplied the seasonal adjustment error plus the huge sampling error that is a feature of the first release of this data, times 12. To its credit, the WSJ did point out in a later paragraph that “February’s advance estimate came with a margin of error of plus or minus 15.2 percentage points.” 15.2%! Are you kidding me! Why are we even discussing this number?

This is what passes for news in the main stream media these days.  This commentary by Lee Adler appeared on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for his his first contribution of the day.

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The Verdict Is In, and America's 401(k) Accounts Are a Crashing Failure

For millions of Americans, the 401(k) plan is a miserable failure — it simply is not shielding enough people from financial struggles in their retirements, according to a CNBC analysis.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates the median amount in U.S. 401(k) accounts is a paltry $18,433 and almost 40 percent of workers have less than $10,000 in those instruments.

"In America, when we had disability and defined benefit plans, you actually had an equality of retirement period. Now the rich can retire and workers have to work until they die," Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research, told CNBC.

The business network said millions of Americans approaching retirement are exiting the workforce with savings that "do not even approach what they will need" for even just healthcare.

It you are an American citizen with a 401[k] plan, this is worth reading.  It appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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Mike Maloney: The Day the Internet Died

"February 26, 2015. That was the day that freedom of the internet died." Watch Michael Maloney's latest video update to hear his thoughts on the recent ruling on Net Neutrality.

"We're adopting a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority that we don't have." - Ajit Pai

This brief 2:31 minute video from Mike appeared on the youtube.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth your time.

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Canada's Biggest Oil Casualty to Date: Calgary's Nexen Shutters Oil Trading Desk

Last December, traditionally perma-bullish energy trader Andy Hall shocked the world when he became the first casualty of the oil crash after Phibro, his 113 year old employer then owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer. He wouldn't be the last. Overnight, Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, reported it too would close its crude oil trading division following a round of job cuts announced last week, four market sources said on Monday.

It appears that unlike money-losing shale producers, who still have some balance sheet capacity to eek out funding for a few more weeks/months of operations and product dumping (which sends prices of oil lower not higher which is what those same producers need), oil traders who largely are self-funded no longer have that luxury, and as a result of the failure of oil to bounce, have no choice but to fold it in.

From ReutersThe Calgary-based company, which was acquired by state-controlled CNOOC in 2013 for $15.1 billion, cut 400 jobs last week in North America and the United Kingdom in response to plunging global oil prices.

Three sources said Nexen was closing down its trading operations worldwide, although the majority of activity takes place in Calgary. The company will continue to market its own crude.

This is another story courtesy of the Zero Hedge website.  It was posted there at 8:22 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for his second story of the day.

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U.K. to Boost Falklands Defense to Counter Argentina Invasion Fears - Reports

The United Kingdom will bolster its defense in the Falklands amid fears Argentina may increase its military capacity and invade the islands, the Telegraph newspaper reported Tuesday.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic that Buenos Aires claimed it owned. The armed conflict between the two nations took the lives of 655 Argentinian and 255 British servicemen. The 74-day Falklands war ended when Argentina gave up their bid to control the islands.

U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon will announce troop and equipment reinforcements to the Falklands on Monday, the newspaper reported. The move comes in response to a U.K. Defense Ministry review suggesting an invasion to the islands is likely.

This news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 11:09 a.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday morning, which was 3:09 a.m. EDT in Washington.  It's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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More capital controls as France declares war…on cash

French paper Le Parisien didn’t mince words in the headline: “La chasse au cash est lancée”. Basically ‘hunting season on cash is launched’.

Under the auspices of fighting terrorism, France’s Minister of Finance, Monsieur Michel Sapin, has rolled out a series of eight new restrictions aimed specifically at minimizing the use of cash.

Among the new restrictions is a prohibition of making more than €1,000 in cash payments (down from €3,000 before).

Large cash withdrawals exceeding €10,000 per month will also now be monitored and reported to the French authorities.

This news item was embedded in yesterday's edition of the Sovereign Man.  A reader sent me the story the other day---and I can't find it now, so this will have to do.  Simon Black sent it our way.

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Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos wins 15 seats in Andalusia

Podemos, the Spanish anti-austerity party, will be a prominent force in Andalusia’s regional parliament after it won 15 seats in the party’s first election since its ally Syriza triumphed in Greece.

The Socialists, who have held power in Andalusia for more than three decades, will continue to govern the region. Lead by Susana Díaz, they won 35% percent of the vote, earning them 47 seats, shy of an outright majority.

“Andalusians have made their voices heard through the ballot box,” Díaz, 40, said on Sunday as the results came in.

The election held up Spain’s two-party system, albeit in a weakened state. The People’s party came in second with 27% of the vote, or 33 seats, but the party of prime minister Mariano Rajoy was the biggest loser on the day as the result was a steep drop from the 50 seats it won in the 2012 elections.

This news item appeared on theguardian.com website at 1:14 a.m. GMT on Monday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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European Central Bank to ban embattled Greek banks from holding government bonds

The European Central Bank is set to tighten the noose on Greece a day after the president of the Bank denied the institution was “blackmailing” Athens into agreeing to bail-out conditions.

According to reports, the ECB will move to officially ban Greek banks from increasing their holdings of the country’s short-term sovereign debt, in a bid to break a potentially toxic link between lenders and the stricken sovereign.

The restriction will place a further squeeze on the cash-strapped Greek government, which could run out of money to pay wages and pensions by the end of next month.

Speaking to the European Parliament on Monday, Mario Draghi denied the ECB was acting unfairly towards the Leftist government: “We haven’t created any rule for Greece, rules were in place and they’ve been applied,” said Mr Draghi.

This rather brief news item was posted on The Telegraph's website at 9:00 p.m. GMT yesterday evening---and I found it in the wee hours of this morning.  It's definitely worth reading.

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$100bn NATO claim: Serbian NGOs seek compensation for Yugoslavia bombing

Two non-governmental organizations have said NATO should be required to pay compensation for the massive damage inflicted during the 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

A meeting of the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals and the Club of Generals and Admirals in Belgrade presented an initiative to hold 28-member NATO financially accountable for the damage that Yugoslavia sustained in the attacks.

Serbian experts put the price tag of the devastation between $60 and $100 billion.

Retired General Jovo Milanovic said that NATO’s military offensive, which was unsanctioned by the United Nations, represented "a violation of all norms of international law that caused enormous material damage to Yugoslavia and huge human casualties,” Tass quoted him as saying.

This very interesting article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 12:34 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Some 10,000 miners go on strike in western Ukraine

Some 10,000 miners are taking part in a protest rally in the city of Chervonohrad in western Ukraine’s Lviv Region, all seven mines of the Lvovugol enterprise have been shut down, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CFTU) of Ukraine reported Tuesday.

"Ten thousand miners have stopped work and entered a new phase of an early strike. They are demanding that closure of mines be stopped, and are insisting on the resignation of Energy and Coal Industry Minister [Vladimir] Demchishin," chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Ukraine’s Miners Mikhail Volynets said.

Miners are holding posters where their key demands are written: resignation of [Energy and Coal Industry Minister] Demchishin and full repayment of wage arrears for January and February [as of March 24, only 10 million hryvnias out of 95 million have been paid].

This story, filed from Kiev, showed up on the tass.ru Internet site at 9:03 p.m.  on their Tuesday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Russian Duma may reauthorize Putin to send the Russian Army into Ukraine

“The Russian Parliament ought to once again give the President of the Russian Federation to use armed force in Ukraine if the U.S. decides to send sizable arms supplies to that country.” This announcement was made by the First Deputy Chairman of the “Just Russia” faction, Mikhail Emelyanov.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution on Tuesday recommending the U.S. president to approve arms supplies to Ukraine. The resolution calls on the president to “use the authority provided by Congress to furnish Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons.” According to the authors of the resolution, this measure would “increase the Ukrainian nation’s ability to defend its sovereignty.” The authors of the resolution also exclusively blame Russia for the deaths suffered during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, they ignore the fact that a significant portion of the refugees is in Russia.

“We believe that our parliament should not ignore this resolution. If the U.S. begins genuine lethal weaponry supplies to Ukraine, we should not be shy about supporting the militia, including with weapons, and to give the president the right to send military units on to Ukrainian territory,” Emelyanov told journalists.

In his view, Russia cannot allow Ukraine to be transformed into an “international militant aimed at Russia.”

This interesting---and not entirely surprising commentary showed up on the fortruss.blogspot.ca Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Moscow demands removal of U.S. nuclear missiles in Europe

Russia increased tension over NATO nuclear missiles Tuesday with a demand that the United States remove all non-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich referred to comments by Jen Psaki, his counterpart at the U.S. State Department, that U.S. missiles are under constant U.S. control, as distorted. He added that deployment of U.S. missiles in European NATO countries is a violation of the 1968 Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation.

Lukashevich's remarks came after tensions, already ratcheted upward by Russia's contention that it could place nuclear weapons in Crimea, increased over the weekend with the suggestion by a Russian diplomat that the Danish Navy's inclusion of radar on one ship, to involve it in NATO's missile shield, could make Denmark a nuclear target.

This UPI article, filed from Moscow, was posted on their website at 11:18 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it is, once again, courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Russian foreign minister: attempts to organize state coup in Venezuela inadmissible

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday any attempts to interfere into Venezuela’s domestic affairs and the United States’ sanctions against Venezuelan citizens are inadmissible.

"Russia and Cuba have reiterated their solidarity with the people of Venezuela, with the legitimate authorities of that country. We consider any attempts to interfere into domestic affairs of that state, illegal sanctions imposed by the United States against a number of Venezuelan citizens inadmissible," Lavrov told journalists during his visit to Havana.

This brief news item, filed from Havana, showed up on the tass.ru website at 9:29 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening, which was 1:29 p.m. in Washington.  This is also courtesy of Roy S.

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Anti-Russian propaganda is ‘unconvincing’, because Western narrative is false

You really couldn’t make it up. Almost 24 million people in the E.U. are unemployed. The Greek debt crisis has yet to be resolved. An Islamic State terrorist attack in Tunis, just over 100 miles from Italy. The ever-worsening problem of climate change.

And what are the E.U. elite talking about? How best to counter ‘Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns’. It’s good to know they’ve got their priorities right, isn't it?

At last week’s summit in Brussels, E.U. leaders discussed a range of options, one of which could include the setting up of a new Russian-language TV channel funded by European taxpayers.

A timetable has been laid out: we’re told the E.U.-funded European Endowment for Democracy will present media proposals to a summit in Latvia on May 21-22, and that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will finalize the plans by the end of June.

This excellent op-edge piece put in an appearance on the Russia Today website on Monday afternoon Moscow time.  I was saving it for Saturday, but thought it worth posting now.  It's definitely worth reading---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Saudi Arabia Wooing Fired U.S. Shale Workers to ‘Join Our Team’

Workers fired from U.S. shale fields after the collapse in oil prices could soon have a new boss: the nation some blame for driving that decline.

The state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, is posting new job ads online aiming to snap up experts in extracting oil from shale as the country seeks to become a leader in that rapidly expanding effort. Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have been fired since November as oil prices plunged because of oversupplies, driven in part by an OPEC decision supported by Saudi Arabia.

That’s now giving Saudi Aramco a better chance to lure experienced workers to its own shale formations. Difficult living conditions had previously made the country a hard sell, said Tobias Read, chief executive officer of Swift Worldwide Resources, a recruiting firm.

“We’ve seen people who have historically been reticent to look at Saudi Arabia who are now more accepting of a job there,” Read said in an interview.

This Bloomberg story is nine days old---and was posted on their Internet site last Monday.  The reader that sent it to me wishes to remain anonymous.

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Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution

Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China’s national standard last year, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants next year.

The capital city will shutter China Huaneng Group Corp.’s 845-megawatt power plant in 2016, after last week closing plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co., according to a statement Monday on the website of the city’s economic planning agency. A fourth major power plant, owned by China Datang Corp., was shut last year.

The facilities will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.

The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Facing pressure at home and abroad, policy makers are racing to address the environmental damage seen as a byproduct of breakneck economic growth. Beijing plans to cut annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash the concentration of pollutants.

This short but interesting Bloomberg article, filed from Beijing, showed up on their Internet site at 9:52 p.m. Denver time on Monday evening---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

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Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy

Costa Rica is running without having to burn a single fossil fuel, and it’s been doing so for 75 straight days.

Thanks to some heavy rainfall this year, Costa Rica’s hydropower plants alone are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. With a boost from geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the country doesn’t need an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on. Of course, the country has a lot of things going in its favor. Costa Rica is a small nation, has less than 5 million people, doesn’t have much of a manufacturing industry that would require a lot of energy, and is filled with volcanoes and other topographical features that lend themselves to renewable energy.

Nonetheless, it is both a noble and significant feat for a nation of any size to eschew fossil fuels completely.

Reader H.W., who went me this article last night, had this to say about it---"I used to live in Costa Rica---and can tell you this: Energy is super expensive. I suppose one can live completely with green energy, but today that price is steep."  That's probably a fair assessment of the price of "green" energy anywhere at the moment.  It was posted on the qz.com Internet site on Monday sometime.

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Freeport-McMoRan: $1.1 billion in dividends just vanished

Freeport-McMoRan stunned investors Tuesday by slashing its dividend 84% – erasing a lucrative income stream for investors and serving up a big reminder these payments aren’t guaranteed.

The company, which explores for materials like copper and gold, announced it is cutting its quarterly dividend down from 31.25 cents a share down to just 5 cents. That’s a massive cut in an implied annual dividend of $1.25 a share to $0.20 a share.

Freeport’s cut is staggering. The reduction takes away $1.05 a share from investors – which is no small sum considering the company has 1.04 billion shares outstanding. All told that amounts to $1.1 billion in lost dividends. The executives will feel the loss, too. CEO Richard Adkerson will miss out on $1.6 million a year in lost dividends.

What makes this cut sting even more is that dividend reductions are extremely rare in the materials sector. There have only been 17 dividend cuts by companies in the S&P 500 materials sector in the past 10 years, including Freeport, says S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Of course, the folks that run this company would never look for the reason why gold and copper are priced the way they are today.  This brief news item showed up on the usatoday.com Internet site at 12:48 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Washington state reader S.A. for sliding it into my in-box shortly after it was posted.

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The Secret of Success in Mineral Exploration -- Louis James, Casey Research

As an investor, I want to bet on the jockeys who win the most races, not just the best-looking horses. So, while I’m no Tom Peters or Stephen Covey, I’ve made a study of success over the last decade. The critical question for a metals investor: what does it takes to be a serially successful mine-finder?

Before I give you the answer, let me give you a little context on just how difficult this is. It’s not as simple as looking for a needle in a haystack; it’s more like looking for a needle in a vast field of steel haystacks, each one of which will give your metal detector false positives. And it’s very expensive to drill holes into them, which is the only way you can test for a needle’s hidden presence.

The odds of any given anomaly actually indicating the presence of a mineable needle are something like one in 300. It typically takes about 10 years to get the needle out of the haystack, and commodity price fluctuations can turn cash-cow operations into money bleeders in the blink of an eye. Pricked by the fickle needle of fate.

So, why would anyone invest in such an uncertain business? Because the world simply cannot function without metals, and the rewards for those who deliver them can be spectacular. Doubling or tripling one’s investment on a successful mineral discovery is routine, and 1,000% gains (10-baggers) are common enough that resource speculators have strategies for bagging them. It’s rare, but 50 and even 100 times one’s initial investment do happen in this volatile sector.

This commentary by Louis put in an appearance on the Casey Research website yesterday---and it's worth reading.

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HSBC Not Closing Gold Vaults – Safety Deposit Boxes of Clients‏ Being Closed

A rumor that HSBC is rapidly and quietly closing gold vaults where clients gold bullion was stored and gold in the GLD ETF is stored has been swirling around the Internet.

After conversations with key players in the industry including a bullion dealer who used the safety deposit boxes for storage and delivery to clients, we can now confidently say that the speculation was incorrect.

What HSBC is actually doing is closing its safety deposit box facilities some of which are in vaults and strong rooms in branches. The vaults are not specialist gold vaults rather standard vaults or strong rooms which contain safety deposit boxes. These safety deposit boxes hold all sorts of valuables – from legal documents, to family heirlooms, to art works, to jewellery and of course bullion coins and bars.

Availability of safety deposit boxes is in decline in Britain and much of the world. Costs of security, insurance and opportunity to use such facilities in a more profitable manner are driving the closures. Banks in Ireland including the Bank of Ireland claim that the safety deposit boxes are “causing an unacceptable health, safety and security risk in some branches.”

The lunatic fringe had a field day with this story when it first appeared a month or so ago, as they took the HSBC press release totally out of context---and I'm happy to see it set straight in Mark O'Byrne's commentary over at the goldcore.com Internet site  on Tuesday.  Brad Robertson was the first reader through the door with it---and it's worth our time.

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Gold Markets May Finally Have Something To Cheer About

Momentum has been building amongst gold stocks this week. With gauges like the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index up 9% over the last week of trading.

The interesting thing is, this rebound has come with very little movement in the gold price itself. As I write, bullion is languishing below $1,190 per ounce.

But a few events are on the horizon that could really give gold investors something to cheer about. In some of the largest consuming nations on the planet.

A prime example being regulatory changes announced last week in the world’s top gold buyer, China. Which should go a long way toward increasing bullion demand in this part of the world.

This bit of shallow main stream fluff about gold appeared on the finance.yahoo.com Internet site yesterday morning EDT---and it's courtesy of Howard Wiener.

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Koos Jansen: Indian gold imports exploding in March

India's gold imports are soaring again, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote yesterday, even as the Indian government is searching for ways to "monetize" -- or, really, paperize -- the metal.

Jansen's commentary is headlined "Indian Gold Imports Exploding in March" and it was posted on the Singapore Internet site bullionstar.com.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.  It's definitely worth reading.

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Mar 24, 2015

The world's next credit crunch could make 2008 look like a hiccup: The Telegraph

A solar eclipse, a super moon, the FTSE 100 breaching 7,000 and the U.S. Federal Reserve speaking in tongues - truly some kind of financial apocalypse must be nigh. Well, maybe.

We are certainly living in strange times. An unprecedented monetary experiment is coming to a staggered end and no one knows the potential repercussions - a plague of frogs cannot be entirely ruled out.

For the time being, the markets remain sanguine, expecting, for example, a gentle increase in the Bank of England’s main interest rate to just 1.5pc by the end of the decade. And, who knows, maybe the markets are right.

But maybe it’s too quiet. Last week, Ray Dalio, the founder of the $165bn (£110bn) hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, wrote a widely-circulated note warning his clients that the US Federal Reserve risked setting off a 1937-style crash when it starts raising interest rates again.

This commentary put in an appearance on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 7:10 p.m. GMT on Monday evening, which was 3:10 p.m. EDT.  I found it in this morning's edition of the King Report---and it's worth your time.

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French Submarine 'Sinks' Entire U.S. Aircraft Carrier Group During War Games

A series of joint naval drills between the United States and France recently didn't quite turn out the way the US, no doubt, expected. The practice scenario ended with the French nuclear submarine that was acting the part of an enemy ship "sinking" the American aircraft carrier and most of its escort.

The exercises were meant to test the newly upgraded carrier, which had undergone a four year, $2.6 billion overhaul, ahead of the Strike Group's deployment.

And all those exercises went well while SNA Saphir was on the American side of the imaginary conflict, in which fictional states were attacking US economic and territorial interests. The French sub supported the American vessels in anti-submarine warfare drills. 

However, the second phase of the exercises found the French ship playing on the enemy side, charged with a mission to find and attack the Theodore Roosevelt.

And so it did, sneaking deep into the defensive screen of the Strike Group, avoiding detection by the American anti-submarine warfare assets, and, on the last day of the drill, "sinking" the Roosevelt and most of it's escort.

This cute story appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site back on March 6---and I got this story from a reader on Sunday who wishes to remain anonymous.

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"Revolution, War, Taxes" - The Complete Paul Tudor Jones Speech

Paul Tudor Jones ruffled more than a few feathers last week when he warned first that "we're in the middle of a disastrous market mania," and second he explained that "this gap between the 1 percent and the rest of America, and between the US and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist," concluding that "historically, these kinds of gaps get closed in one of three ways: by revolution, higher taxes or wars. None are on my bucket list." His thesis is simple and profound as the following full speech shows...

Ultimately, Tudor hopes, the free market will take hold and reward the companies that are the most just...“Capitalism has driven just about every great innovation that has made our world a more prosperous, comfortable and inspiring place to live. But capitalism has to be based on justice and morality…and never more so than today with economic divisions large and growing.

Paul's TED speech runs for 10:24 minutes---and it's definitely worth your time.  It was posted on the Zero Hedge website at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Monday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

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Hacking BIOS Chips Isn’t Just the NSA’s Domain Anymore

The ability to hack the BIOS chip at the heart of every computer is no longer reserved for the NSA and other three-letter agencies. Millions of machines contain basic BIOS vulnerabilities that let anyone with moderately sophisticated hacking skills compromise and control a system surreptitiously, according to two researchers.

The revelation comes two years after a catalogue of NSA spy tools leaked to journalists in Germany surprised everyone with its talk about the NSA’s efforts to infect BIOS firmware with malicious implants.

The BIOS boots a computer and helps load the operating system. By infecting this core software, which operates below antivirus and other security products and therefore is not usually scanned by them, spies can plant malware that remains live and undetected even if the computer’s operating system were wiped and re-installed.

This very interesting article put in an appearance on the wired.com Internet site last Friday---and I thank Norman Willis for sending it along.

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Ukraine oligarch ‘top cash contributor’ to Clinton Foundation prior to Kiev crisis

From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.

In 2008, Viktor Pinchuk, who made a fortune in the pipe-building business, pledged a five-year, $29-million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program that works to train future Ukrainian leaders “to modernize Ukraine.” The Wall Street Journal revealed the donations the fund received from foreigners abroad between 2009-2014 in their report published earlier this week.

Several alumni of the program have already graduated into the ranks of Ukraine’s parliament, while a former Clinton pollster went to work as a lobbyist for Pinchuk at the same time Clinton was working in government.

Between 2009 and 2013, the very period when Hillary Clinton was serving as U.S. secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation appears to have received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

This interesting, but not surprising article appeared on the Russia Today website on Sunday afternoon Moscow time---and my thanks to Roy Stephens for his first contribution to today's column.

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Bank of Canada, Finance Minister, and Others Face Lawsuit for Alleged IMF Conspiracy

It would be easy to assume the people suing the Queen of England, the Bank of Canada, and three ministers for a conspiracy against “all Canadians” wear tinfoil hats.

They don’t. They may be conspiracy theorists, but they are also intelligent, thoughtful people who have a lawyer with a history of winning unlikely cases.

And despite the government’s best efforts to have this case thrown out, it’s going ahead after winning an appeal that overturned a lower court’s ruling to have it tossed and surviving a follow-up motion to have it tossed again.

The government has one more chance to have it thrown out through an appeal at the Supreme Court, but that has to be filed by Mar. 29 and that looks unlikely.

This story, filed from Toronto, easily falls into the must read category---and it was posted on theepochtimes.com Internet site last Thursday---and I thank Ken Metcalfe for bringing it to our attention.

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‘Can’t take any more’: Thousands protest in Dublin against proposed water charges

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday to demand the government drops its plan to introduce new water charges. Opponents say they can’t afford to pay and it is an austerity measure by the Irish government.

The organizers of the rally, ‘Right2Water’ said around 80,000 attended the protest. However local police said the figure was nearer 20,000 to 30,000, according to the Irish Times. This was the fourth and largest mass protest since October, when the Irish government, which is seeking re-election next year, decided to start charging the public for the water they use.

Irish politician Ruth Coppinger urged the protesters not to give in and pay the water charge. She believes that if people do not pay up, then the government will eventually be forced to drop the controversial charge.

This article showed up on the Russia Today website on Sunday at 9:55 a.m. Moscow time, which was 2:55 a.m. in Washington.  I thank reader M.A. for finding it for us.

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French President: Russia Is a "Friendly Country"

Russia is a "friendly country" for France, French President Francois Hollande told the Society magazine in an interview published on Friday.

"For me, Vladimir Putin is first of all the president of Russia," Hollande stressed, commenting on his relations with the Russian leader. "When I talk to him, I talk to Russia, and this is the country that I respect, a great country, a friendly country," he said.

Hollande admitted there are some disagreements between Moscow and Paris. "President Putin has his own interests, own vision, his own methods and things he says are not always commonly accepted," the French leader noted. "That is why I decided to talk openly with the head of state who is always speaking directly," he added.

This short article, filed from Paris, was posted on the russia-insider.com website on Saturday---and it's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Switzerland, Luxembourg apply for China-led infrastructure bank

Despite negative noises from the U.S., Switzerland and Luxembourg have become the latest European nations to apply to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Chinese Finance Ministry announced.

Earlier in March, the E.U.’s leading economies – the U.K., France and Germany –announced plans to participate in the new international financial institution.

China's Finance Ministry released a statement on Friday saying it welcomes the Swiss decision to apply.

Switzerland is to become the bank’s founding member later this month if other nation members involved approve its candidacy.

This news story, was posted on the Russia Today website on Saturday afternoon Moscow time---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Nazi Extortion: Study Sheds New Light on Forced Greek Loans

Loukas Zisis, the deputy mayor of Distomo, a village nestled in the hills about a two hour drive from Athens, says he thinks about the Germans every day. On June 10, 1944, the Germans massacred 218 people in Distomo, including dozens of children. Zisis, who is just 48 years old, wasn't yet born at the time of the attack.

"We can't forget the Germans," Zisis says. They came to Distomo 71 years ago with their guns. "Today they are exerting power over our village with their banks and policies," he adds. He's standing in the wind on a rocky ledge, a small man in a leather jacket, and looking out over the town. Two-thousand people live here.

The massacre, which continues to shape the place today, was one of the most brutal crimes committed by the Nazis in Greece, with the carnage lasting several hours. For decades, a trial over the massacre wound its way through the courts at all levels in Greece and Germany. Greece's highest court, the Areopag, ruled in 2000 that Germany must pay damages to Distomo's bereaved.

"But we are still waiting," says Zisis. "There has been no compensation."

This very interesting essay appeared on the German website spiegel.de on Saturday---and I thank Roy Stephens for his second story in a row.  The original headline read "Greek Study Provides Evidence of Forced Loans to Nazis".

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Tsipras Heads to Berlin as Greece Prepares for Decisive Week

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Berlin with military honors amid growing speculation that the meeting will ease a deadlock between Greece and its creditors and help unlock aid.

Stocks and bonds rose on Monday ahead of Tsipras’s arrival at the Chancellery, the first official visit by the Syriza leader since his Jan. 25 election on a platform of ending the German-led austerity tied to Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($262 billion) bailouts.

After the anthems of each country were played by the German military band, Merkel led Tsipras up the red carpet and into the Chancellery, where the two leaders are holding talks, followed by a press briefing and then a working dinner.

This Bloomberg story, filed from Athens, was posted on their Internet site at 6:29 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and the contents of the 2:54 minute video clip---and the story underneath it---vary by quite a bit.  I consider the video clip to be worth watching, especially at the end when they start talking about the cash drain on Greece's banks last week.  The story also sports a new headline "Merkel Treats Tsipras to Red Carpet in Sign Tensions Ease".  I found this news item in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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'There are no madmen in E.U.' to send peacekeepers to Ukraine – Lavrov

The E.U. would not send a peacekeeping force to Ukraine unless the rebels endorse such a mission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, commenting on Kiev’s request for a foreign ‘police force.’

"I believe there are no madmen in the E.U. [Previously the E.U. deployed peacekeepers] only in situations in which, as in the Balkans, all sides of a conflict agreed to it. The E.U. would never go to any region – be it southeastern Ukraine or anywhere else – unless the conflicting sides agree to such a mission," Lavrov said in an interview to Rossiya 1 channel's Sergey Brilev on Saturday.

Russia's foreign minister added that Kiev should talk to the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republic rather than Moscow to secure their backing for peacekeepers and not ignore them as it is doing at the moment.

This is another story from the Russia Today Internet site---and this one appeared there on Saturday morning Moscow time---and once again it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Top Russia Scholar Stephen Cohen: War between NATO and Russia a Real Possibility

Professor Stephen Cohen is one of the most respected authorities on Russia among American and Western scholars. He is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. His academic work concentrates on modern Russian history and Russia's relationship with the United States.

This 14:57 minute youtube.com video speech showed up on the russia-insider.com website on Sunday sometime--and it's a must listen for sure---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

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Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

Russia threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Denmark joins NATO's missile defense system, in comments Copenhagen called unacceptable and NATO said would not contribute to peace.

Denmark said in August it would contribute radar capacity on some of its warships to the missile shield, which the Western alliance says is designed to protect members from missile launches from countries like Iran.

Moscow opposes the system, arguing that it could reduce the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal, leading to a new Cold War-style arms race.

This Reuters article, filed from Copenhagen, showed up on their Internet site at 2:46 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it.

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Alasdair Macleod: The New Order Emerges

China and Russia have taken the lead in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), seen as a rival organisation to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are dominated by the United States with Europe and Japan.

These banks do business at the behest of the old Bretton Woods order. The AIIB will dance to China and Russia's tune instead.

The geopolitical importance was immediately evident from the U.S.'s negative reaction to the U.K.'s announcement this week that it would join the AIIB. And very shortly afterwards France, Germany and Italy also defied the US and announced they might join. In the Pacific region, one of America's closest allies, Australia, says she is considering joining too along with New Zealand. The list of U.S. allies seeking to join is growing. From a geopolitical point of view China and Russia have completely outmanoeuvred the U.S., splitting both NATO and America's Pacific alliances right down the middle.

This is much more important than political commentators generally realise. We must appreciate that anything China does is planned well in advance. Here is the relevant sequence of events:

This commentary by Alasdair showed up on the goldmoney.com Internet site last Friday---and I thank reader M.A. for finding it for us.  It's not overly long---and it's worth reading.

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China's premier asks IMF to include yuan in SDR basket

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has asked the head of the International Monetary Fund to include China's yuan currency in its special drawing rights basket, state news agency Xinhua said.

"China will speed up the basic convertibility of yuan on the capital account and provide more facility for domestic individual cross-border investment and foreign institutional investment in China's capital market," Xinhua paraphrased Li as telling IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in a report late Monday.

Li added that "China hoped to, through the SDR, play an active role in the international cooperation to maintain financial stability and promote the further opening of China's capital market and financial area," the report said.

China's yuan at some point would be incorporated in the SDR currency basket, Lagarde said on Friday.

This Reuters article, filed from Beijing, showed up on their website at 10:00 p.m. EDT yesterday evening---and I found this in a GATA release just after midnight Denver time.

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Pepe Escobar: Westward ho on China’s Eurasia BRIC road

“…it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger (to the U.S.) emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America” -  Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997

What’s in a name, rather an ideogram? Everything. A single Chinese character – jie (for “between”) – graphically illustrates the key foreign policy initiative of the new Chinese dream.

In the upper part of the four-stroke character – which, symbolically, should be read as the roof of a house – the stroke on the left means the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the stroke on the right means the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. In the lower part, the stroke on the left means the China-Pakistan corridor, via Xinjiang province, and the stroke on the right, the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh-India corridor via Yunnan province.

Chinese culture feasts on myriad formulas, mottoes – and symbols. If many a Chinese scholar worries about how the Middle Kingdom’s new intimation of soft power may be lost in translation, the character jie – pregnant with connectivity – is already the starting point to make 1.3 billion Chinese, plus the overseas Chinese diaspora, visualize the top twin axis – continental and naval – of the New Silk Road vision unveiled by President Xi Jinping, a concept also known as “One Road, One Belt”.

This rather short commentary, at least for Pepe, put in an appearance on the Asia Times website on Saturday---and it's certainly worth reading as well.  It's the second offering of the day from reader M.A.

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Does Washington Intend War With Russia–Paul Craig Roberts Interviewed by The Saker

The Saker: It has become rather obvious to many, if not most, people that the USA is not a democracy or a republic, but rather a plutocracy run by a small elite which some call “the 1%”. Others speak of the “deep state”. So my first question to you is the following. Could you please take the time to assess the influence and power of each of the following entities one by one. In particular, can you specify for each of the following whether it has a decision-making “top” position, or a decision-implementing “middle” position in the real structure of power (listed in no specific order)

Federal Reserve, Big Banking, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Skull & Bones, CIA
Goldman Sachs and top banks, “Top 100 families” (Rothschild, Rockefeller, Dutch Royal Family, British Royal Family, etc.), Israel Lobby, Freemasons and their lodges, Big Business: Big Oil, Military Industrial Complex, etc.---and other people or organizations not listed above?

Who, which group, what entity would you consider is really at the apex of power in the current U.S. polity?

Paul Craig Roberts: The U.S. is ruled by private interest groups and by the neoconservative ideology that History has chosen the U.S. as the “exceptional and indispensable” country with the right and responsibility to impose its will on the world.

Wow!  It doesn't get any more bare knuckles than this.  Paul holds nothing back.  And whether you agree with him or not, this is, without doubt, one of the most important articles that I've ever posted in this column---and easily falls into the ABSOLUTE MUST READ category.  However, as Chris Powell pointed out [and correctly so] when I sent him the story  "the intelligentsia in the U.S. has been extremely anti-Israel for years now."  That was more than apparent to all during the Israeli elections just past, so PCR is on the wrong side of this particular issue.  But, having said that, he's not far off the mark with everything else.  I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.  If this doesn't scare you to death, you obviously don't understand the gravity of the situation.

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Ethiopian warplanes reported to have attacked Nevsun gold mine in Eritrea

Ethiopian fighter planes bombed the site of Eritrea's Bisha gold mine, reported Al-Sahafa, a leading Sudanese Arab daily in its March 21 edition.

According to the newspaper, heavy plumes of smoke and fire bellowed from the mine, located 150 kilometers from the capital city, Asmara.

At $300-$400 million in annual earnings, the gold mine is Eritrea's only source of revenue, the newspaper added.

The paper speculated that the raid might have been intended to distract public attention from the upcoming Ethiopian elections.

This story was posted on the asmarino.com Internet site on Saturday---and I extracted it from a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Hong Kong.  This may have been a propaganda piece as the story over at the nevsun.com Internet site is totally different.  It's headlined "Nevsun Provides Further Update on Operations"---and they describe it as an act of vandalism.

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Nevsun reports vandalism at Eritrea mine but nothing about air raid

Nevsun Resources Ltd. is describing an attack on its Bisha mine in Eritrea as an "act of vandalism," an account that contrasts starkly with African media reports saying the mine was bombed by Ethiopan fighter jets.

In a statement released Sunday, Nevsun said vandals caused minor damage to the base of a tailings thickener at the mine during the night shift on Friday, releasing water into the plant area.

But the Ethiopian news site Tigrai Online said it had confirmed a report that the Ethiopian air force bombed the mine on Friday. Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafa was the first to report that the attack was a military operation from Ethiopia.

A source close to Nevsun said the company is not sure what happened and isn't ruling out any possibilities until it completes an investigation. Nevsun's statement said the company has implemented additional safety precautions and no employees were harmed.

Chris Powell posted this on the gata.org Internet site shortly after I posted the above story, so I thought I'd stick this one in here without comment while we await "clarification" of the situation.
This story appeared on the financialpost.com Internet site at 7:57 p.m. yesterday evening EDT.

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Lawrence Williams: South African gold mining’s fall from grace

South Africa may have regained its position as the world’s fifth largest gold producer in 2014 when all the figures have been tallied. One estimate of global gold output in 2014 records that the country produced 168 tonnes, a small increase on 2013’s 164.5 tonnes. Not so many years ago, South Africa had totally dominated world gold production producing 1,000 tonnes a year. But latest output figures from Statistics South Africa show a serious continuing decline in monthly gold production. With new across-the-board wage negotiations coming up over the next couple of months, some suggest that this year could, as a result, see a further sharp slump in output. Initial indications suggest that the wage talks may be extremely difficult. And difficult wage negotiations in the South African context can get out of hand as witness the virtual four month shutdown of much of the country’s platinum sector in 2012. This was coupled with some horrendously violent events (including the Marikana massacre when police opened fire on striking miners killing 44) and continued reports of other violence and intimidation throughout.

It’s not that we necessarily expect this to be replicated in the gold mining sector negotiations, but inter-union rivalries between the NUM, which represents around 57% of gold sector workers, and AMCU, which tends to be more militant in its approach, which currently looks after the interests of around 25% and is seeking to replace the NUM as the industry’s main union, could add another dimension – and probably not a positive one.

This commentary by Lawrie was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site last Wednesday---and somehow I missed it.  He was kind enough to point that out on the weekend, so I'm making amends now---and it's worth reading.

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Sprott Money: Ask the Expert -- Jim Rogers

Geoff: Hello, and welcome back to Ask the Expert here on Sprott Money News. I’m your host Geoff Rutherford, and on line today we have Mr. Jim Rogers. Jim Rogers is a critically acclaimed author, financial commentator, and successful international investor. He’s frequently featured in such publications as The New York Times, Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times, and is a regular guest on television shows around the world. Mr. Rogers is a co-founder of the Quantum Fund, a global investment partnership. After electing to retire at the age of 37, Mr. Rogers has served as a professor of finance at Columbia University School of Business, and has written four books on investment, including Hot Commodities, Adventure Capitalist, and Investment Biker. Mr. Rogers also designed the widely followed Roger’s Commodity Indices and travels the world highlighting the case for investment in commodities as an asset class. And with that, we’d like to welcome Mr. Jim Rogers. Good morning, or good night James. How are you doing today, sir?

Jim: I’m delighted. It’s actually morning here, Geoff. You’re in the night time, I think, but I’m in the day time.

Geoff: That’s right, that’s right. So Jim, we have a number of questions here from our listeners, so let’s get started here. We’ve been looking at what’s been happening with gold over the last week or so, even the last two weeks, and we’ve seen the price slide, we’ve seen the price go up. The question is, what conditions would prompt for you to sell your gold?

This 11:22 minute audio interview, complete with transcript, appeared on the sprottmoney.com Internet site on Monday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sending it along.

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China's Zijin in talks to buy gold, copper mines abroad

China's Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. is in talks to buy gold and copper mining assets abroad and expects to finalise some acquisitions this year, its chairman said on Monday.

Chen Jinghe said that current market conditions were favourable for acquisitions but did not identify targets.

Some talks "have almost reached maturity. ... This year there will be some important results," Chen told a news conference in Hong Kong after the company's 2014 earnings.

This Reuters article appeared on their website at 4:10 a.m. EDT yesterday, so it was obviously filed from China, but the story doesn't say where.  I found it on the gata.org Internet site.

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Koos Jansen: Will The Shanghai International Gold Exchange Facilitate Gold Inclusion Into The SDR?

The Shanghai International Gold Exchange (SGEI) was launched in September 2014, to internationalize the Chinese gold market and the renminbi. The timing of the launch is quite remarkable though, in the context of changes in the international monetary system (IMS).

2015 is likely to force a major shift in the IMS. Two developments are worth watching, the SDR basket will be reviewed, the renminbi will probably be adopted later this year, and the rise of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution proposed by China with many Western members; currently France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, New Zealand and the UK. Both developments are severe blows to the US dollar hegemony.

Last week I reported on, (i) the IMF terms for the renminbi to be adopted into the SDR, (ii) if these terms can be met this year, and (iii) what the role of gold will be in the process (read China, Gold, SDRs And The Future Of The International Monetary System). Since then there has been more confirmation of renminbi adoption in the media.

This commentary by Koos showed up on the bullionstar.com Internet site on their Monday sometime---and it too is worth reading.

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Lawrence Williams: China gold demand ups when price dips

Week 10 saw gold withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange at an impressive 51 tonnes bringing the total for the year to March 13 to a shade under 508 tonnes. Thus it looks as if Q1 withdrawals are heading for somewhere around 600 tonnes plus or minus. This compares with around 564 tonnes in Q1 2014 – the highest Q1 figure recorded to date. In 2013, which turned out to be a record full year for SGE withdrawals, the Q1 figure was only 463 tonnes, but 2013 figures soared from April onwards when a very sharp gold price drop stimulated huge Chinese demand – largely satisfied by outflows from the West’s big gold ETFs. The early March downturn in the gold price this year may thus have seen increased buying by Chinese consumers yet again.

But this year one doubts ETF outflows will really figure much in the gold flow equation. Indeed so far gold ETFs have seen small inflows since January 1. If total Chinese demand, as represented by SGE withdrawals, holds up as it well may, we could be in for another boom year for continuing physical gold flows from West to East, but without net ETF liquidations one may ask from where this physical metal will materialise?

This gold-related commentary by Lawrie appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 11:17 a.m. in London yesterday morning.

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Lawrence Williams: Bank analysts predicting gold price and demand growth, but not nearly enough

It is so frustrating when top bank analysts ignore the data from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) and instead rely totally on data from the World Gold Council as supplied by GFMS.  The WGC admits itself that its figure of Chinese gold consumption ignores an important proportion of the gold flows into China.  Thus in its latest analysis, Barclays comes up with the WGC line that China is back to being the world’s second largest gold consumer after India, having fallen from first place 1n 2013, and then bases its assumptions as to China’s gold consumption growth accordingly.  Barclays Bank analyst, Suki Cooper, continues on this path and states that perhaps by 2020 China could be consuming half the world’s gold output.  By our reckoning it already is – and more!

Last year’s withdrawals out of the SGE, which by law handles all China’s gold imports and domestic production, came to 2,102 tonnes – down from 2,197 tonnes in 2013 – which is already equivalent to around two-thirds of global new mined gold output.  Cooper relies on the WGC data for her analysis which puts Chinese consumption at a miserly 814 tonnes, but this ignores financial elements of demand and gold disappearing into the Chinese banking system which the WGC admits may be substantial.  If these are not elements of ‘Chinese consumption’ – a matter of semantic interpretation of what is ‘consumption’  – they are certainly relevant as gold flows, and it is gold flows into Chinese hands which have to be the most important statistical data in terms of the global gold market.

Lawrie sounds more than a bit miffed in this must read article that appeared on this website yesterday.  The media isn't paying attention to the real facts of the situation regarding China and gold---and he's annoyed.  Now he has some inkling as to how Ted Butler and GATA feel as the years---and decades---slide by.  But as I've stated for years now, the WGC, GFMS, the CPM Group, The Silver Institute---they're all in bed with the powers-that-be---and anything they publish should be read for entertainment purposes only, because as a group, they all ignore the 800 pound gold and silver gorilla COMEX short positions that are sitting in the living room with them.

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On CNBC Asia, GATA secretary discusses gold market rigging and its consequences

GATA's secretary/treasurer Chris Powell was interviewed on Monday morning in Hong Kong by Bernie Lo on CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box" program, discussing gold market manipulation, the failure of mainstream financial news organizations to put critical questions to central banks about their surreptitious intervention in the gold market, the "new" gold fix in London, the market-destroying and imperialistic results of gold price suppression, and the general subversion of democracy by central banking.

A five-minute excerpt from the interview has been posted at the CNBC archives.  It's certainly worth five minutes of your time.

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Ted Butler Interview: Demeter Research

Matt and Alex interview Ted Butler, long-time silver expert and analyst. Ted discusses the issue of manipulation in the precious metals futures markets, the unusual level of movement of physical silver in and out of the COMEX warehouse system, and the unusual short-side concentration of commercial banks in Dollar Index futures.

Well, I don't have to steal any 'big picture' stuff from Ted for now, as he pretty much lays it all out in this longish, but must listen interview that was posted on the demeterresearch.com Internet site on Sunday.  The actual interview itself begins at the 4:35 minute mark.

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